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For Kyrgyzstan to survive, its government must start providing the most basic commodity required of every government - security and safety for the people through effective administration of law and order. So far, it has failed miserably. Having the distractions of a drawn-out political process isn’t going to help.

Kyrgyzstan needs international peacekeepers and a reformed, strengthened police and army as quickly as possible. It will be far easier to supply the peacekeepers than the reformed army: Just look at the problems the U.S. armed forces have had trying to make the Iraqi and Afghan security forces effective.

However, the picture is not all black by any means. Neighboring Kazakhstan has enjoyed almost two decades of post-Soviet social peace and steady economic progress despite a population mix far more diverse than Kyrgyzstan’s. Kazakhstan has favored economic development over political liberalization under a strategy of “democratic evolution.” By almost every measure, this has worked very well.

Peacekeepers are needed as quickly as possible to give the new government in Bishkek time to establish the firm rule of law throughout the country and to set the economy in motion again after months of instability and violence.

The peacekeepers shouldn’t be American, but any sound U.S. foreign policy should support urgent action to get them in place. As much as possible, Central Asian neighbors should play a leading role in bringing stability to the region. The lives of hundreds of thousands of innocents are at stake.

Martin Sieff is senior correspondent for Central Asia Newswire and a former senior foreign correspondent for The Washington Times. His most recent book is “Shifting Superpowers: The New and Emerging Relationship Between the United States, China and India” (Cato Institute, 2010).